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To uphold "middle-way," Tibetan exiles demand China's sincerity

November 24, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
Phayul
November 22, 2008

Dharamsala, Nov 22 -- While reaffirming their absolute "faith and
allegiance" in the Dalai Lama's leadership and agreeing to pursue for
Tibet's autonomy, Tibetan exiles did not rule out a possible shift in
policy to independence if current middle-way policy fails to yield
any result in the near future.

Over 500 Tibetan leaders and representatives from around the world
today ended a six-day "Special Meeting", which was started on Monday,
in Dharamsala, the base for the Tibet's government in exile in northern India.

The speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Mr Karma Chophel, who
chaired the meeting, described the final report of the meeting as a
summary of the opinions and suggestions of the people to be submitted
to the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama for his further considerations.

In the report, the delegates have urged the exiled Tibetan leader
Dalai Lama not to consider "complete retirement" or even
"semi-retirement" in leading the Tibetan people's cause.

Among other things, the report also suggests that the talks by Dalai
Lama's envoys with China should be stopped until Chinese leadership
is serious about resolving the Tibetan issue. The report further says
there was a strong opinion from the meeting that consideration must
be given in seeking "independence" if such a move does not bring any
result within a short time.

The report of the meeting declared that, whether seeking
"independence" or "autonomy," the Tibetan people will maintain total
commitment to non-violence in their struggle for freedom.

"China has rejected our proposal for a genuine autonomy in all its
form. But there is still time for China to respond positively to our
sincere efforts," Chophel told Phayul. "If China is not at all
willing to do that, it will only force us to review our current
policy again. Then as expressed strongly by Tibetan delegates during
the meeting, there is no reason not to consider shifting our policy
to independence," the speaker added.

Jamyang Norbu, a prominent Tibetan writer and a staunch advocate of
Tibetan independence, described the meeting itself as an
"encouraging" one that gives public an opportunity to express their
opinion and accordingly help review the Tibetan government's
policies. He said the meeting had vitalized the need to review and
revamp the current middle way policy.

Jamyang, 59, said that the meeting was also a "first step in the
right direction" in reviewing Rangzen (complete independence) policy
and possibly restoring it if the middle-way approach continues to
fail within a time limit.

Former Kalon and Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the
Americas Mr. Lobsang Nyandak said the outcome of the meeting had not
outlined any fixed time limit for a possible review on the policy shift.

"Everyone agrees that only through dialogues we can settle the issue.
The delegates of the meeting are saying that Chinese government
should now create the prospect and the atmosphere for the dialogue to
take place," Lobsang said.

"To have a review of the current policy in future, we must observe
Chinese side's reaction and discuss seriously about it," he said.

To make China come forward, Lobsang said "it depends on what
strategies we adopt and the kind of international pressure that we
can build on China."

Speaker Chophel said the meeting also called on China to stop
criticizing and making defamatory attacks on the revered Tibetan
leader. He said such remarks not only hurt the sentiments of the
Tibetan people, but also hurt the sentiments of Buddhists, including
Chinese, around the world and also Tibet supporters and individuals
who admire the Dalai Lama's moral principles.

"The meeting has concluded that China must accept that this year's
unrest in Tibet is a result of its misrule and wrong policies adopted
against the Tibetan people for the last many decades. China has said
it has evidence to prove that Dalai Lama's exile groups have
instigated the riots in Tibet, but they have already failed to show
any evidence to prove their accusations," he added.

Chophel said Tibetan people "unanimously reaffirming their trust and
allegiance to His Holiness the Dalai Lama" during the meeting was a
fitting reply to Chinese leadership's remarks that the Dalai Lama has
no right to represent Tibetan people. "Tibetan people reaffirming
that they will follow the Dalai Lama in whatever path he deems most
appropriate is a clear message; and China must acknowledge this
reality," he added.

Chophel also said the Tibetan envoys, during the latest round of
talks with Chinese representatives earlier this month, had also
challenged the Chinese government to allow a free and independent
poll on what Tibetans inside Tibet have had to say about the Dalai Lama's role.

Jetsun Pema, former Kalon (Tibetan minister) and the younger sister
of the Dalai Lama, said the meeting was an important platform to
"prepare for the future" of the Tibetan movement.

"His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always wanted to have a genuine
democracy for Tibetan people and he has always promoted it," Pema said.

Ahead of the 'special meeting', some 17,000 Tibetans inside Tibet had
also been consulted about their opinions on the future course of
action Tibet. Of them more than 8000 Tibetans said they will follow
the Dalai Lama's direction and almost 3000 backed the Dalai Lama's
middle-way approach.

The Dalai Lama is expected to address the meeting delegates on Sunday.

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